Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) Greek Life program was honored this month by the national Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA) with the Outstanding Change Initiative Award for making tremendous progress and improvement in the university's fraternity and sorority community. In addition, WPI's associate director of Student Activities and Greek Life Programs, Emily Perlow, won the prestigious "Volunteer of the Year" award from the AFA. The awards were presented at the Dec. 8, 2009, AFA Annual Meeting in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Outstanding Change Initiative Award is a national honor given annually that recognizes only one institution, whose major initiatives or long-term plans have led to the most positive changes within the fraternity and sorority community as well as to measured improvements, results, and positive outcomes. The WPI Greek community was recognized for making numerous improvements, including
- increasing philanthropic fundraising from $19,000 annually in 2005-2006 to a high of $78,364 last academic year;
- increasing the number of community service hours from 7,407 in 2006 to 11,791 hours in 2009;
- increasing the number of groups winning a national or international award from seven chapters to nine over the past four years;
- increasing the emphasis on member development; and
- improving relationships with WPI faculty and staff, evidenced by a 180 percent increase in the number of chapters with engaged faculty and staff advisors.
The number of women joining sororities at WPI has increased from 2005 at 26.3 percent to the current 34.5 percent.
"I believe it is the push for continual improvement, reinforced by dedicated alumni volunteers working with the chapters, that makes the WPI Greek community one of the most solid in the country," Perlow said. "WPI challenges its chapters to exceed their organizational best each year."
During the conference, Perlow was honored for the outstanding volunteer work she does throughout the year for the organization. "Emily is truly deserving of this award for the countless volunteer hours she has devoted to the AFA this past year," said Janet Richardson, WPI's vice president for campus affairs and student life. "The Outstanding Change Initiative Award would not have been given to WPI without her leadership. She has diligently worked to help WPI's fraternities and sororities implement the recommendations of the Greek Life Task Force over the past four years. Emily and the students involved with WPI's Greek Life programs are certainly deserving of these accolades."
This year, for the first time in its history, the WPI Greek community surpassed the 1,000 member mark, thanks largely to a record number of new members. Over the last month, the community welcomed more than 336 members, the largest number joining in over a decade. The community now comprises 31.5 percent of the student population, up from 28.5 percent in 2004. In addition, WPI's fraternities and sororities represent some of the strongest chapters of their 16 national organizations (13 fraternities and three sororities).